57: The Ty Betteridge Data Operation

57: The Ty Betteridge Data Operation WOE.BEGONE


There are a million mysteries inside of Oldbrush Valley. Marissa and Ravi are going to get to the bottom of at least one of them.


Ty Betteridge. Never a more elusive character was there. Except for Flinch. And Ryan probably. And whoever met me in the Arbiter mask when I played WOE.BEGONE the second time, no idea who that even was. And Michael’s kinda weird. But Ty is an enigma nonetheless. And unlike the other weird jerks that I mentioned, Ty is the one whose identity, whereabouts, and goals might actually provide important information about how this whole time travel story fits together. 

The most notable feature of Ty, outside of his calm and professional nature, is that he is the only person I’ve encountered that has had voluntary associations with every time travel-adjacent group that the Base is currently aware of. He worked at O.V.E.R. and was positively identified by Hunter Jeremiah Hartley as working there contemporaneous to when the rest of us worked there. He was involved in the Flinchite compound. In fact, he was the one responsible for detaining me inside said compound and making me replay WOE.BEGONE under an alias, robbing me of months of my life. And, finally, he was a presumed Arbiter wearing the same sort of mask that the Arbiter that visited me during said second round of WOE.BEGONE had been wearing, and was shot and killed while in possession of a Calculator inside of Tier 2, the night that we foiled the Flinchites’ plans that would have resulted in Edgar’s death. I also had experience with O.V.E.R., The Arbiters, and the Flinchites, but none of my associations with them were explicitly voluntary. I was coerced into doing their violent work for them. The lines are blurrier with O.V.E.R., but I did not have a true choice in going to work there. 

The discovery of Ty as an Arbiter made that organization into even more of an unknown unknown. I knew precious little about them before that night inside of Tier 2. I knew that they were running the version of WOE.BEGONE that I had been playing, that one of them had visited me in the leadup to the fourth challenge. Presumably, they had either taken the game from Ryan or were working with him. Ryan remains unavailable for comment. After that night, the only information that we gained was that Ty was working for them, perhaps at the same time he was working for O.V.E.R., and that they had the ability to conduct time travel in the field through what we now call the Calculators. From the outside, it appeared that Ty was working in all of these conflicting groups at once during this operation inside of Tier 2.  

To understand that, we need to understand the temporal elements of Ty’s story. The Ty Betteridge I knew from the Flinchite compound was maybe 35—not old but no longer a “young adult.” Hunter confirmed to me that the Ty that he knew could not have possibly been that old. He was Edgar’s age or younger, mid 20s-ish. Does that mean that the Flinchite’s operation was to sabotage a younger Ty Betteridge? Had young Ty or an iteration of him gone rogue? Were they connected in the time travel sense? Was this Ty issuing what Base calls a Correction? Was the British accent I heard him speak at the Compound a fake? Was it a put-on to confuse his younger self and for his own amusement? Elder time travelers have been known to do such things. 

The pursuit of this knowledge was personal for me. Ty was my captor, after all. He found me while I was scraping along Rock Bottom at Matt’s house and plunged me into an even deeper hole. He made me his guinea pig—or, more appropriately, he made me his hamster. He ruined my life! Okay, maybe that’s a difficult thing to judge considering everything else that has happened. He allowed me to experience a great deal of pain for the sake of gathering info on… a group that a younger iteration of him was a part of? The failure of these ideas to add up made me even more resentful. It made me more desperate to decode the Ty Betteridge situation. Enter:

The Ty Betteridge Data Operation. They finally let me name something! They wouldn’t let me name the Base, they won’t let me name group chat… hell, they wouldn’t even let me name the hamsters, but I named them anyway. Rest in peace, Chubbums. Just think: Base could have been named the Time Zone or the Retrocausal Pocket or any of the other [sounds of paper rustling] 50 ideas that I wrote down that got shot down for Base. The Oldbrush Unconventional Travel Society or O.U.T Society. As in, O.V.E.R. and O.U.T. Huh? Pretty cool, right? 

The Ty Betteridge Data Operation shortens to T.B.D.O. or Ti-bi-do. Thibbideau. Get it? [Beat.] As in, Charles Thibbideau? From back when this all started? 20th century philosopher and author of Constructing Time? He was Aliza Schultz before Aliza Schultz? Is this ringing any bells? No worries if it doesn’t, this all came and went before I even killed my first pig. And just like Aliza Schutlz, I’m almost positive that he was a person fabricated by CANNONBALL and Ryan to give trailheads to WOE.BEGONE players. Anne said that she never believed the Thibbideau stuff for a second. Regardless of her lies on this matter, she was the only one who could appreciate the creative name I gave to Project T.B.D.O.

T.B.D.O. was an espionage project, like all good missions are. Any time physically altering something enters the equation, I tend to fill an office building with water, or fill an office building with an angry bear, or get blown up in a van… much better to stick with observing people from afar. Or not even from afar: with Ty, we would be able to approach him fairly openly in his native environment at O.V.E.R. Thankfully, Hunter Jeremiah Hartley knew Ty before the incident in Tier 2 and was able to give us a timeline of his employment and the scoop on what he seemed like back then. According to him, Ty started around the same time that Edgar did (before I started working at O.V.E.R.) and, like Edgar, also worked on the interfacing team between Tiers 1 and 2. Edgar swore to us that he didn’t know Ty other than exchanging names and pleasantries and that checks out. O.V.E.R. is a huge place and the interfacing team is large and they don’t all necessarily work together. Ty didn’t work in 116E. 

According to Hunter, Ty was normal, even especially friendly. This fit with my recollection of him. It was easy to imagine a younger Ty, just as cordial but more carefree. It could also be an unassuming front to something much darker and deeper. Best not to take how someone acts at a top secret government facility at face value. 

The plan was to observe Ty from the earliest point that we knew his whereabouts, namely the beginning of his employment at O.V.E.R. This would give us an opportunity to figure out where he came from and if he knew anything coming into O.V.E.R. or if what happened to him was a result of something that happened there. We decided that the plan would work best if the reconnaissance team consisted of people who already worked at O.V.E.R. when he started. This would allow them to approach him directly for information without seeming too suspicious. That meant that I was not an option, since I started work after him.

Marissa was quick to volunteer herself and Ravi. Ravi was not part of the team. He was a liability that had to be monitored at all hours. Hunter had destroyed all evidence that Ravi had been gathering when Marissa caught him and installed a hidden camera in his cabin while he was there and Marissa put a GPS tracker on their cart to monitor his movements, but the liability issue had not solved itself and was taking up a lot of mental and physical bandwidth at Base. He was scared of retribution from Marissa, but we all worried that as soon as he thought he could make a break for it, he would. Marissa’s idea was to use Ravi’s deference to her to employ him in a time travel mission, at which point he would be complicit. The Sword of Damocles would be hanging over his head as well and he would either join us or drop looking into it. This plan was… undercooked I guess?… but honestly none of us wanted to kill him. That’s what it boiled down to. Why we all found our softness in the same way at the same time I cannot say, but killing Ravi was off the table. Marissa’s plan was all that we had.

T.B.D.O 1 was an operation that would begin at the start of Ty’s employment at O.V.E.R. And would be a continuous reconnaissance mission contingent upon successful acquisition of information. Which is a lot of syllables to say that Marissa and Ravi were to keep going around the clock if they found something. Thanks to the Calculators, this didn’t have to be truly around the clock for them, since we could send them to a hotel room 8 hours before they needed to rest and they could both rest and pick up exactly where they left off, with seamless communication with Base, who would be working around the clock. Base support was divided into 3 shifts: Edgar in the morning, Anne in the afternoon, and yours truly at night. We would keep up these shifts for a few days and then reevaluate if this was a proper course of action. 

And, like that, the plan was set. Cue the plan music. We drafted up routes and schedules, gathered supplies, and made predictions and contingencies. T.B.D.O. was a-go. 


  T.B.D.O. 1 began at 8am, both in Base time and mission time. Mission time was locked to Base time in order to simplify calculations. If Base needed to know when something was happening, they would know immediately because it would be the same time of day at Base. This was especially important in case of emergency. Using the Calculator requires knowing a precise moment in time, so if someone needed emergency extraction, it was best if no one had to do any quick math. Especially me. I barely knew how to work a Calculator, so the fewer buttons I had to press to get the desired action, the better. We also had a rendezvous coordinate that Marissa and Ravi were to return to at the beginning and end of every shift. We knew these coordinates and so knowing the time would allow us a failsafe in case something went catastrophically wrong. Let’s pretend those were my brilliant ideas since this is my mission. 

I was awake at 8am. I had some coffee and joined Edgar in the operations room, despite his complaints.

“You need to go rest for the night shift,” he badgered me. 

“But this is my mission, T.B.D.O. 1,” I said. “I’m too excited to sleep. I’ll sleep during Anne’s shift.”

“If you sleep during your shift, I’m gonna be so mad,” Edgar replied. 

“I’ll be fine. I’ll be fine,” I said. “I can pull an all-nighter if I need to. I don’t want to miss anything.”

“I’m serious, Mikey. If you fall asleep during your shift you’re going to have to wear the hat for one full day to earn my forgiveness.” Edgar winked at me. 

“Joke’s on you. I threw the hat in the garbage last week,” I said. 

Edgar chuckled. “Sure you did, Mike. You threw an iteration of the hat in the trash.”

I sighed. “Of course you duplicated the hat.” We all know which hat we’re talking about, right? 

“Anway, Ravi and Marissa are heading in now,” Edgar said. “They secured a hotel room for use on breaks and should be getting past Charlie at this very moment. Rendezvous coordinates are at the front of your cabin at a time of 8:15am on their date. 

“My cabin?” I asked. 

“It’s empty. That’s why you got it when they hired you. That whole route is empty in this time period. We’re using it as their local home base,” Edgar explained. 

“Makes sense,” I said. “This is only a couple months before I started there.”

Some moments passed uneventfully and then the earpiece stuttered and crackled to life. 

“Come in Edgar?” said Marissa’s voice over the coms. “You there?”

“We’re both here.” I beat Edgar to the punch. 

“Oh. What’s he doing here?” She asked, annoyed. 

“Don’t worry about him. Are you en route to the rendezvous coordinates?” Edgar asked.

“Yeah, we’re gonna make it there just in time, no thanks to Charlie. She’s a little too smart for her own good,” she said. 

“Everything okay?” Edgar asked. 

“She asked if my hair was longer than it was earlier,” she said. “Can’t fucking believe she noticed.”

“That’s sort of Charlie’s job,” I said, defensively. 

“And your job is night shift, so maybe go take a nap?” Marissa replied, antagonistically. 

“I assume Ravi is there with you?” Edgar asked. 

“He will not be speaking unless spoken to,” Marissa said. “Isn’t that right, Ravi?” I could hear faint agreement with her in the background. I was relieved that Ravi would be under constant in-person supervision for awhile. Monitoring him from afar while deciding what to do with him had made me worry. 

“You’ve got 4 minutes until 8:15. Can you get to Mike’s cabin?” Edgar asked.

“With a couple minutes to spare,” Marissa replied. “We’re walking up to it right now. Damn, Mike, this place used to look nice before you moved in.”

I opened my mouth to retort that maybe that wasn’t all my fault but Edgar grabbed my leg in order to stop me. I said nothing. Two minutes passed and Marissa arrived on my doorstep. 

“We’re here,” she announced. “Now we just wait 2 minutes?”

“Yep,” Edgar replied. “Until your watch says 8:15.”

“10-4,” Marissa said. “Damn, Mikey, you never said that you could see Ty’s cabin from your own.  You hiding something?”

“I didn’t know that you could,” I said. “I didn’t know who that was until I was transported wearing Matt’s underwear into a windowless room to be experimented on.”

“Oh, someone’s a little cranky,” Marissa shot back. “Doesn’t surprise me. You’re up too early. I was just teasing. But that’s great news. I have some very nice glass for just this occasion. I can see right in his window from here. And I’ve got a night vision one for tonight. And I’ve got a set of keys to the spare cart. This is perfect. We’ll grab that after our 2 minutes are up.”

“Can you see him in his cabin right now?” Edgar asked.

“One sec.” Marissa was quiet. We could hear her rustling through some sort of bag. “Yep, he’s still in there,” she announced. “What’s he work? 9-6?”

“Yeah. And he’s in 282E if you know where that is,” Edgar responded. 

“Sure do, that’s on my route,” Marissa said. “We’ll swing by there and introduce ourselves this morning after he has some time to get settled in. Um, wait a second. He’s leaving the cabin. I wouldn’t call that a 45 minute walk to work, would you Edgar?”

“15 at the most,” he said. “Where’s he going?”

“Uhh… you’ll have to give us a minute. He’s just on the path right now. Could be going anywhere,” she replied. 

“Not enough time to grab breakfast and still make it on time,” I mused. Everyone ignored me. 

“It’s 8:16, by the way,” Edgar pointed out. “You were standing at the coordinates the whole time, right?”
“Yeah yeah,” Marissa said. “I think he’s… going into a red flag cabin?” She sounded unsure.

“Edgar, did you have access to red flag cabins?” I asked. 

“No, they were almost entirely off limits,” Edgar said. His face scrunched. “And he just started working at O.V.E.R.? No. No way he has access to red flag cabins.”

“Well, he’s inside of one. I saw him go inside,” Marissa said. 

“They aren’t locked usually, are they?” I asked. 

“No, but now he’s coming out of it holding some files that he didn’t have when he walked in,” Marissa said. 

“In my experience, you do need a key for that sort of thing,” I said. “Especially if you plan to get in and out quickly like that.”

“Where’s he going now?” Edgar asked. There was silence on the line for a couple minutes. I anxiously sipped my coffee. 

“Well, there’s 282E. He kept right on walking,” Marissa said. 

I cleared my throat anxiously. “Marissa, you know where you shot… um… where you shot the bear?” I asked. I didn’t want to bring it up but I had an idea. 

“Mike, why the fuck are you bringing this up right now?” she demanded. 

“You know the row of buildings? There was a trashcan in front of one and the woods were behind them and that’s where you saw the “bear,” but there was a second row of buildings across the way. Does that sound familiar?” I asked. 

“I guess so. Out past that way if you take a right? That’s not my patrol, I go left there,” she said. “Why?”

“There’s a building there. I don’t know what it’s called but Hunter took me there once. Not our Hunter. Mystery Hunter, I think. Is that where Ty is going?” I asked. 

“Maybe? Mikey, this scope can’t see through walls or trees for that matter. I lost him and am just hoping he pokes his head out between buildings where I can see him again,” she said. “Don’t get your hopes up.”

“I think I know where those files are going. There’s a mail slot on a building. I don’t know whose route it’s on. If you had asked me, I’d have said Marissa. WOE.BEGONE had me steal red flag cabin files from out of there before,” I said. 

“Do you want us to try to steal the files, Edgar? We could hit up the place tonight,” Marissa said. 

Edgar thought for a moment. “No,” he said. “I don’t think we can do anything with the files.”

“I needed Ryan to decode them for me,” I added. 

“And we don’t have a Ryan,” Edgar said. “I think the important takeaway here is that Ty is waltzing into red flag cabins like he belongs there and moving documents around. That’s not typical. I never did that.”

“Loud and clear, chief,” Marissa replied. “So, we met at the rendezvous and got you some bonus info on Ty free of charge. Whaddaya say Ravi and I go get that spare cart. By the time we get to it, it should be time to go visit Ty at work and see if we can get any info out of him. 282E is on our route so it should be simple enough to find an excuse to go in. I’m asleep in my cabin at this point in the morning. Where are you, Ravi?” We heard some quiet muttering on the other side of the earpiece. “So this is one of Ravi’s off-days so the morning patrol is covered by a neighboring route. So we’re in the clear. No one is spotting both iterations of us, today.”

“Great,” Edgar said, “Exactly as planned. You guys make your way to the cart and then to 282E and report back.”

“Aye aye,” Marissa said. The line went quiet. I yawned. 

“Go to bed, bear,” Edgar chastised me. 

“But this is the only time I’ll get to see you today,” I whined. “I’ll be going to bed when you get out of bed tomorrow morning. I won’t get to see you all day.”

“You’ve had a cup of coffee and you’re yawning,” Edgar pointed out. “You’re going to crash and the longer you stay up, the more likely it is you’re going to crash during your shift. We need you alert.”

Unable to stop myself, I yawned again, an act of contrition. “I know you’re right. And I’ll be happy I got some rest once my shift arrives and I’m raring to go. I’ll see you for your shift tomorrow morning, panther.” I gave him a quick kiss.

“Night, Mikey,” he said. I left the operations room and went to my bedroom. 

I didn’t tell Edgar that it had become almost impossible for me to sleep at night when I was alone. I couldn’t attribute it to any one thing. Some nights I would wake up in the dark, sure that someone was in the room with me. Some nights I would have dreams that someone or some animal was chasing me down trying to kill me. On the worst nights I would dream about Matt. When Edgar was there with me, I would wake up knowing I was safe with him at least. When things got bad enough that I woke up jumping out of bed convinced that something was happening, he was patient enough to calm me down and wrangle me back into bed. Without him, I couldn’t get any real sleep. Resting up for my shift was no different. I slept in spats, woke from nightmares, and stayed awake from the fear of having more of them. I paced around a little, fucked around on the internet, put on a movie that I proceeded not to watch. I was too fired up about T.B.D.O. 1. There was too much going on. I didn’t want to sleep. 

My shift came eventually. Anne passed the baton to me, looking tired and annoyed.

“What a rip off,” she said. “I thought this was going to be exciting, but they did all of jack shit while I was on duty.”

“Anything of note?” I asked.

“Edgar’s notes are in the main document. They met Ty during his shift apparently. All they did during my shift was scope out some sort of building, peaked into his cabin while he was at work, and spent a lot of time sitting there waiting for something to happen.” She threw her hands up in annoyance at this last part. 

“Stalking is like that sometimes. Sorry you didn’t get to have any fun,” I said. 

“Yeah,” she sighed. “I did use the Calculator to give them an 8 hour break, so they’ll be coming in at the same time as you are and you won’t have to fiddle with the Calculator to give them a break.”

“Thank God–” we both said in unison. 

“I will leave you to it, then,” she said. “If you need anything, wake up Edgar. Don’t wake me up unless the world is ending.”

“Can do,” I replied. She hastily made her way out of the operations room. She seemed particularly eager to get out of there. 

I sat around for a few minutes while I was waiting for Marissa and Ravi to make it past the front gate. I had myself a snack of… gluten free trail mix. I guess if I wanted better snacks, then I could supply them myself. But I was also forking over my whole paycheck to Anne for the Base. It’s whatever. It’s fine. I also perused the main document where Anne and Edgar had both cataloged what had transpired that day. 

It seems that after I left, they did in fact get the cart and take a trip to 282E, where they did successfully meet Ty. Ty appeared to be basically the same age as the Ty we observed in Tier 2. He confirmed that he was new there and that he was on the interfacing team. The document said that Marissa dropped a few hints that time travel was the principle technology that powered O.V.E.R. and he responded in a way that sounded like he was playing dumb. Edgar notably wrote down that this was Marissa’s personal editorializing. From there, they returned to my cabin and plotted out their other goals.

During Anne’s shift, they seemed to have visited the building with the mail dropoff and concluded that it was not possible to retrieve anything from it during the day. Then they went to Ty’s cabin and peaked in without breaking in, not seeing anything of note except a large number of files, the contents of which they could not see, and a large safe in his bedroom. Nothing particularly damning, but eyebrow raising nonetheless. They requested to break in, Anne denied. They requested in via the Calculator, Anne denied. Sounds like Anne spoiled her own fun, honestly. After this, they returned to the rendezvous point in order for Anne to use the Calculator to initiate a break of exactly 8 hours, at which time they were to report back to O.V.E.R., keeping strictly in time with Base time. 

The earpiece came to life just as I finished reading over the document. 

“We’re back. Mikey, you there?” Marissa asked. 

“Just got settled in,” I explained.

“We’re here and we’ll be at your cabin soon. Troy asks a lot less questions than Charlie,” she said.

“Yeah, they really got lucky hiring her,” I said.

“And we got lucky Troy’s not great at his job,” she replied. “Did you read over Edgar and Anne’s shifts?”

“Sure did. Looks like you learned a couple things,” I said.

“Only a couple things,” she said and sighed. “I knew it wasn’t going to be wall-to-wall action but it’s boring out here. Even more boring than being on patrol because at least then I get to drive around a bunch.”

“What’s the plan for tonight? I suppose we aren’t getting the files?” I asked. 

“Someone came and picked up the mail this afternoon, actually,” she said. “I don’t think they’re even in there anymore.”

“Well, so much for that. Now what?” I asked. 

“I say we do some old-fashioned camping out,” she said. “The lights are out in the Betteridge household, but I have a sweet new night vision scope, so if he decides that he is going to sneak out for some adventuring tonight, Ravi and I will be the first to know about it.”

“I get why Anne said this wasn’t very exciting, now,” I said. I still didn’t feel quite that way. This was my mission. This was T.B.D.O. 1. We were actually doing it. I was still excited. 

“Just how it goes. You sat in that van all night, right? When we were watching that house,” she said. 

“No…” I trailed off. She quickly put together what she said wrong.

“Oh, shit, Mikey. Mike. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I got mixed up,” she said. 

“It’s fine,” I assured her. “But I did sit at Base all night, so I know what it’s like to sit around bored. At least we can sit around bored together, right?”

“Yep!” she said, her tone now a placating form of upbeat. “It’s been a long time since we got to catch up. Just don’t say anything you don’t want Ravi to hear.”

Marissa and I chatted for hours about anything that came to our minds. It was the first time that I had talked to her that much since maybe the night that I went on her patrol with her or the night that she showed up to my house unannounced when I ran away from O.V.E.R. and she discovered there were at least 2 Hunters. It felt effortless. I felt like I was making up for time wasted, my friendship with Marissa having fallen through the cracks as life became more and more tumultuous. 

Light was beginning to peak over the horizon. Not quite sunrise yet, but enough light that it made it easier to see, according to Marissa. I was telling her about The Tragedy Of Macbeth, how it was a good movie and really close to the play it was based on and if you read the play while watching the movie, it’s a lot easier to understand. She was putting up with this for awhile, until suddenly she shushed me. 

“Ty’s up! Ty’s up!” She whispered.

“What? This early?” I asked. It was well before the rest of the world would be waking up.

“Yep and he’s leaving his cabin,” she said, excitedly. 

“Where the hell is he going at this hour?” I asked. 

“No idea, but we’re about to find out,” she said. 

“How are you going to get over there? Not very stealthy to roll up in a patrol cart,” I said. 

“I’m not worried about that. There’s patrol carts all over and he’s new so he doesn’t know where carts are expected to be and where they aren’t. He doesn’t know about the night vision, either. I can get close enough to see whatever he’s doing. I gotta make a move, Mikey. We’ve been waiting all night for this. Don’t you want something you can write–”

Just then, I heard a gunshot from the earpiece. 

“Marissa!?” I said.

“What the fuck was that? Was it Ty?” I asked. Another gunshot.

“No, it came from the other direction,” she said. I could hear the confusion in her voice.

“It wasn’t Ty?” I asked, again. 

“No, I can still see Ty. What the fuck?” she said. “I’m gonna go check it out.”

“What? But Ty–”

She cut me off. “I’m not gonna get shot out here because I didn’t investigate my surroundings properly,” she said. “If I tail Ty and someone is behind me from the other direction, Ravi and I are toast. Here,” I could hear more rustling. “Ravi, get out and take the night vision. Start walking that way. Don’t lose Ty. Figure out what he is doing. I’ll catch up with you. It will only take a second.”

I could hear an indecisive “okay…” from Ravi as Marissa essentially kicked him out of the cart. I heard the cart’s engine turn over and Marissa sped off into the night. 

“I can pull you out,” I said.

“No, we’re getting to the bottom of this,” she said determined. 

A tense minute or so passed. Neither of us said anything. Then, I heard the cart slow to a stop.

“Mike?” Marissa said. 

“Yeah?” I responded. 

“No, not you. Mike?” she said. I didn’t understand. 

“Um, no ma’am it’s um… it’s Michael actually. Uhh, partner they sent me out here to correct ya. I needed to get your attention for uhhh Base reasons. I’m just doing my job, ma’am.” I could hear him through Marissa’s earpiece. It didn’t sound like Michael. 

“Play it cool, but that’s not Michael,” I told her. “Keep talking but keep ready. I don’t know what this means.”

“What are you correcting, if I may ask?” Marissa asked him.

“Well, ma’am, propagation and all that. Cain’t exactly say what I’m correcting. It’s orders, understand? They don’t even tell me nothing about it.” I sat there, perplexed. This wasn’t Michael. Who was this? Why were trying to sound like Michael? 

I heard more gunshots. They sounded further away than the ones that the supposed Michael had shot. 

“And what the fuck was that?” Marissa demanded. 

“That’s classified ma’am,” he said. 

“Ravi!” Marissa shouted. She and I were both thinking the same thing. “What the fuck are you doing out here? You’re not Michael. Why are you pretending to be Michael?… Who the fuck else is out here?”

“Michael? I mean Mike? I mean? Is everything okay? We’re coming, we’ll meet you in the middle.” I heard Marissa turn and approach the second Mike. 

“Michael, is everything okay?” the one pretending to be Michael said. 

“Hmph. No! I just watched Ty shoot someone over the set of cabins. I don’t know who it was. There’s no one else from Base out here. This was not part of expectations. We need to get the fuck out of here NOW. Marissa, the correction is done. Don’t go lookin for Ravi. You aren’t gonna find him. He was a problem. Now he’s not. You need to get extracted NOW. You need to tell Edgar or Anne or whoever is in your earpiece that the jig is up. We weren’t planning for this, they weren’t planning for this. [insert clip]

At which point everything went silent. I could hear Marissa running back to the cart and then starting it.

“They’re gone. They’re just fucking gone. They traveled, I guess. They had a Calculator with them. What did they mean about Ravi?” She sounded scared.

“I don’t know but I’m going to extract you from the rendezvous point,” I said. I picked up the Calculator. 

“No, fuck that,” she said. “We forgot to do it when we started your shift. I’m gonna make it back to the cabin. Be ready. Ty’s a long way away, I can make it.”

A tense minute of driving later, I heard Marissa leave the cart, still running and make a dash toward the front door of the cabin. “Are you ready, Mike? I’m here. Right at the start of the new minute, extract me. I’ll be right here. Can you do that?”

I was frantically pushing buttons. I had about 15 seconds if I wanted to extract her then. “I’ve got it. Marissa, I’ve got it. Can you see him?”

“Ravi had the night vision. Fuck. What did they do to him?”

“No idea, but you’re coming back to Base. We can sort it all out after that.” I pushed the button. 


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